The Whistleblower (Blu-ray)
I love movies that have a basis in real life. Not reality shows, though I do enjoy documentaries. They don’t even have to be “true stories,” necessarily, just movies that I can connect to a time or place in reality. I also generally enjoy police procedurals (LAW & ORDER, CSI, tons of movies) – some of which I generally enjoy and others that are definitely guilty pleasures. Having just finished THE WHISTLEBLOWER (2010) I am happy to report it is a great movie though a little bit hard to watch due to the subject matter.
THE WHISTLEBLOWER is the fictionalized account of (real person) Kathy Bolkovac’s experiences when she became a U.N. Peacekeeper in Bosnia. Kathy (Rachel Weisz) takes the job to make extra (and quick) money so she can move closer to her daughter after her tour. The whole thing sounds right up her alley (she’s currently a cop in Nebraska). It’s supposed to be a quick, simple job but nothing works out the way she planned. The conditions in which people are living are terrible. Women are being abused without recourse due to their lesser standing. When Kathy tries to help the women, though, the people she works with refuse to help.
Kathy develops a friendship with a local police officer who wants to help these victims who have not traditionally had a voice within their culture. This results in her receiving a promotion to Gender Affairs officer (for the U.N.) and with her help the police get the first ever conviction in Bosnia for domestic violence. In her new role she is still associated with Democra (the private contracting agency who provides the Peacekeepers) but she now is also working for one of the primary United States diplomats in the country, Madeleine Rees (played by the amazing Vanessa Redgrave).
What Kathy discovers in her new role is that there are far more issues than anyone knew. Bosnia has become a hot bed for human trafficking. Underage girls are being sexually abused, bought and sold as currency by the very law enforcement officers with whom she is working. Left with no other choice Kathy starts investigating her own superior officer and discovers that the corruption goes to the very top of the diplomatic food chain. With some help from Rees and an Internal Affairs officer (played by David Strathairn), who is a friend of Rees, she continues her work despite constant threats from her coworkers.
THE WHISTLEBLOWER succeeds in its purpose because it does a few things very well. First, the movie shows how far someone will go when they are pushed into a corner. Bolkovac doesn’t go into this job trying to find corruption but when she does she feels obliged to do everything in her power to stop it, despite the potential ramifications to her own life. Second, this is the grittiest, and probably truest to form, view of human trafficking I have ever seen in a feature film. Third, and finally, the casting of the core group of characters is absolutely flawless. Weisz is perfect in this role and shows some real chops on screen, in my opinion the type of performance that deserved recognition by the Academy.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The video is clean and looks phenomenal throughout the film. The cinematography is perfectly orchestrated to enhance the grittiness of human trafficking. You’ll feel so close to the action that you will be uncomfortable for most of the movie (but that isn’t a bad thing, really!).
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio is a great mix that, along with the video presentation, really puts you in the middle of some of the most horrific situations you’ll ever see.
Kathy Bolkovac: The Real Whistleblower (05:31) A good but extremely brief special feature (and the only one on the disc!). Interviews with the cast and the real Kathryn Bolkovac detail how the project came together while giving some insight into Bolkovac’s motivations. Weisz talks about how important it was for her to meet and talk to Bolkovac before she inhabited the role. It certainly carried through into Weisz’s performance.